Thursday, February 28, 2013

Freak Kitchen - "Land of the Freaks"

Freak Kitchen - Land of the Freaks
2012, Laser's Edge

1. God Save the Spleen
2. Hip Hop Hooray
3. Teargas Jazz
4. Sick (Death By Hypochondria)
5. OK
6. Honey, You're a Nazi
7. The Only Way
8. Murder Groupie
9. The Smell of Time
10. One Last Dance
11. Do Not Disturb
12. Clean It Up

Freak Kitchen is a fun little band. They've got a progressive metal/rock vibe, an 80's rock vibe, and sometimes a dance/pop vibe. These three influences are blended into some of the most interesting and infectious music I've heard in a while. The album starts off with the pounding "God Save the Spleen" then follows that up with the more pop "Hip Hop Hooray." The third track, "Teargas Jazz" is a bit more progressive but every bit as catchy. These songs stay in your head for days. You'd think because of some of the flippant song titles that the band would be a bunch of goofballs. Well, they kinda are - the lyrics are smart alecky and clever, but the topics they tackle are pretty serious. From black market organ transplants to racism to personal responsibility, they cover a bevy of subjects. They have a way of making you laugh but thinking as well.

Useless Fact: "Teargas Jazz" seems to be about the band being in Dehli when the Danish cartoonist published those cartoons that made Muslims mad. They were stuck in this country at the time, apparently trying to convince people that they weren't Danish. They tell it better in the song though.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dream Theater - "Systematic Chaos"

Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos
2007, Roadrunner

1. In the Presence of Enemies, Pt. 1
2. Forsaken
3. Constant Motion
4. The Dark Eternal Night
5. Repentance
6. Prophets of War
7. The Ministry of Lost Souls
8. In the Presence of Enemies, Pt. 2

I picked up Systematic Chaos because, like Train of Thought, opinions on this one seem to be divided. I really liked Train of Thought so I figured I might like this one too. Unfortunately, I'm on the opposite side. Systematic Chaos, while certainly an example of flawless musicianship (as per usual) just doesn't hold my attention. The first track doesn't really go anywhere, waiting for the second half of the song at the end of the disc to really assume an identity. Tracks like "Forsaken" and "Prophets of War" are completely forgettable. "Constant Motion" is another one of those Metallic-esque tracks, but I don't think it's as good as the band has done before. Two tracks I really enjoyed were "The Dark Eternal Night" and "Repentance." The former is heavy and interesting and the latter is the ballad part of Portnoy's Alcoholics Anonymous suite. Oh, and what's up with the lyrics? Each song (aside from "Repentance") is filled with "dark" fantasy stories. I guess the guys were boning up on their Iron Maiden or something. Anyway, while I've grown to really love this band, this particular album doesn't do much for me. Oh well, they can't all be winners.

Useless Fact: "The Dark Eternal Night" is based off of an H.P. Lovecraft story. While "In the Presence of Enemies" was based off of some manga about a Korean priest... I think... at least according to Wikipedia.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Coheed and Cambria - "The Afterman: Descension"

Coheed and Cambria - The Afterman: Descension
2013, Hundred Handed

1. Pretelethal
2. Key Entity Extraction V: Sentry the Defiant
3. The Hard Sell
4. Number City
5. Gravity's Union
6. Away We Go
7. Iron Fist
8. The Dark Side of Me
9. 2's My Favorite 1

I'm glad we didn't have to wait a year or two for the second half of The Afterman. I'm also glad that it's just as good as the first half. The band retains their sound while still trying out some new things - though I don't think there are as many new things here as on Ascension. "The Hard Sell," a song about being true to yourself and not selling out, is - ironically - the most mainstream, radio friendly track on here. Not that I mind any. I like that track quite a bit. There's also "Number City" which is one of the more experimental tracks featuring horns and what not. I absolutely love that one. I really think the whole project is something that needs to be listened to together because each album individually, while awesome, is a little light. Either way, I'm excited about Coheed again The Afterman (the whole saga, that is) is truly a treat.

Useless Fact: Vocalist Claudio Sanchez is the voice of Cyrus Amory and Claudio's wife is the voice of Cyrus AI companion, All Mother.